The Court of Appeal on Monday annulled the deregistration of 22 political parties by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The Appeal Court’s President, Justice Monica Dongban-Mensem, a lead judgment in Abuja, held that INEC ignored due process in exercising its powers under Section 225(a) of the Constitution (as amended).
The Court therefore set aside the June 11, 2020 judgment of the Federal High Court, Abuja and ordered that the appellants should henceforth be listed as political parties in the country.
The political parties were among the 74 political parties de-registered in Feb.6, 2020 by INEC, for not meeting the necessary constitutional requirements.
The appellate court unanimously held that not only were the affected political parties already in court before INEC exercised its constitutional powers to de-register a party, it failed to inform the parties why they could no longer exist.
The Court held that the de-registration of the appellants was illegal because INEC failed to comply with due process of law.
According to the court, INEC’s action was not in compliance with the provisions of Section 225(a) of the Constitution because it (INEC) did not indicate reasons for its decision to de-register the appellants.
The court noted that Section 40 of the Constitution entitles citizens to the freedom of association, and as such, the right conferred on a political party cannot be taken away except in accordance with the provisions of the law and due process.
It noted that the appellants were not challenging the legitimacy of the law/constitutional provision under which INEC claimed to have acted, by the process of their deregistration.
The parties are the Advanced Congress of Democrats (ACD), Advanced Nigeria Democratic Party (ANDP), All Blending Party (ABP), All Grand Alliance Party (AGAP), Alliance of Social Democrats (ASD), Change Advocacy Party (CAP), Democratic People’s Congress (DPC), Green Party of Nigeria (GPN), Masses Movement of Nigeria (MMN) and Mega Party of Nigeria (MPN).
Others are: New Generation Party of Nigeria (NGPA), Nigeria For Democracy (NFD), Peoples Coalition Party (PCP), Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA), People for Democratic Change (PDC), Young Democratic Party (YDP), Re-Build Nigeria Party (RBNP), Save Nigeria Congress (SNC), Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN), United Democratic Party (UDP), United Patriots (UP) and We The People of Nigeria (WTPN).
The parties in 2019 sought the interpretation of the novel provision in Section 225(a) in the amended Constitution. But, before the suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/444/2019 could be decided, INEC announced the de-registration of parties in February.
Respondents in the appeal were the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and INEC.